Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive April 2017 Show 1718 Mercantile Impacts Local Economy

Mercantile Impacts Local Economy

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile’s opening shifted Pawhuska’s economic tide, and other merchants have jumped on board to keep the tide rising.
Mercantile Impacts Local Economy

Mercantile Impacts Local Economy

For more information visit these links:

Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce

Tallgrass Art Gallery

Pioneer Woman Mercantile

The Pioneer Woman

Show Details

Show 1718: Mercantile Impacts Local Economy
Air Date: April 30, 2017



Rob McClendon: Well, the opening of the Pioneer Woman Mercantile is a huge event in and of itself. But what about the bigger picture? How are businesses, people and the city of Pawhuska affected by this big name attracting all the crowds? In a word, it is thankful, but also mindful they need to build upon the Pioneer Woman’s success. Our Blane Singletary has their story.

Blane Singletary: The Mercantile might be bringing everyone to the small, once-quiet town of Pawhuska, but it’s far from the only place those people are going.

Cathi Ball: They are standing in line, and while they are standing in line, one person holds the place in line, and the rest of them come shop.

Blane: That’s Cathi Ball. She runs a clothing shop inside the Tallgrass Gallery, just across the street from the Pioneer Woman Mercantile. And while things are bustling today, she still has fresh memories of the store’s humble beginnings.

Ball: I have been here for five and a half years. There was a group of eight women that had separate booths in a little store two doors down, and we just tried to provide things that were not in the town. There was no place to buy clothing.

Blane: Now, with tens of thousands of people flocking to Pawhuska every month since the Merc opened in November, businesses like Cathi’s have had a slew of new customers they have been all too happy to accommodate.

Ball: So it has been amazing. We help them with information around town about where to go and what to do. They say once the money comes into a town it passes at least three times through the town before it is gone. So everybody is benefiting from it.

Bruce Carter: Obviously, that does improve the foot traffic for your community. We get a lot of tourists in. They get to see the other things that are happening here.

Blane: Bruce Carver is the owner of the Tallgrass Gallery.

Carter: All ships rise with the tide. The tide has risen, but it is up to us to keep it going.

Blane: The opening of the Mercantile might have changed this downtown district overnight, but taking advantage of this sudden growth spurt is going to take a lot of continued effort.

Carter: I think that for a small town sometimes the stars have to align. But those stars do not align without people working in the background and having a vision or a goal. Pawhuska probably for 12, 13 years has been trying to become an arts destination. And I think what happened here is with Ree Drummond, the stars aligned, and we were able to make that happen. But it’s been people working in the background, working hard, believing in something. We do not talk about visions in Pawhuska any more. We talk about goals. We do not talk about problems. We talk about creative opportunities.

Blane: And one of the many people working in the background on those goals and opportunities is Joni Nash, executive director of the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce

Joni Nash: It all goes back to just a spirit of excitement, anticipation of what is going on now, but what’s also to come.

Blane: Like anyone who has come across a major windfall, Nash says the key objective now is not to blow it.

Nash: All of a sudden, we do have all this organic growth and stimulation, but we want to maximize the potential. Looking outside, we have tapped into partnering with those resources as far as getting those investors and getting those promoters here to talk Pawhuska outside of Pawhuska and bringing the right people here.

Blane: And, of course, all those meals and merchandise serves up a heaping helping of sales tax revenue, to the tune of an extra $20,000 per month. Mike McCartney is the Pawhuska city manager.

Mike McCartney: For rural communities like ours? It means a lot to us. We have to have that to keep everything going and as most communities, rural communities in the state, are struggling right now, and it will help us out a bunch.

Blane: And long before that money started pouring in, the city and its chamber have had a long wish list.

McCartney: We pushed the downtown. We started our streetscape plan back in 2010. So we have been pushing. We could never have gotten to this point, I do not think, for sure this fast, without the Drummonds stepping up. When Ree opened her door, it came, and it came fast.

Blane: And that is why at the top of this list is infrastructure. Mike says some of what is currently in place is estimated to be over 100 years old. All these new people need all manner of new facilities.

McCartney: It has not really caught us off guard, but you just do not know until they get here just what you are going to need. Restroom facilities. You have that many people, and they are standing in line, they need a restroom at some point there. Getting back and forth across Main Street, which is Highway 60, we have had to really watch that.

Blane: Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Tri County Tech Center, which has already helped train and staff positions in the Merc, they will be able to facilitate this much-needed update for the city, allowing them to focus on their big dreams, like a new, bustling downtown, with more residential, commercial businesses and nightlife. And Joni Nash says people cannot wait to get started.

Nash: I have calls constantly now of interest that are wanting to come to Pawhuska and wanting to find out what it takes to get a business downtown. There is really great investors that are stepping up and coming into our community.

Blane: While change, especially one that has taken hold this fast, is never easy, Bruce Carter says it is essential for this rural community to continue growing and thriving.

Carter: Without struggle, there is no progress, and sometimes people would like things to remain the same, but things do not remain the same. And I think you would find a very small, small minority in Pawhuska are not appreciative of what is happening. We went from being a very small, rural, backwater community to being Disney World. And you have to pay to do that. It is pay to play.